Tango Around the World (PUTU 271), Putumayo has traveled the globe to find many of the best tango and tango-influenced songs the world has to offer. From tango’s birthplace in Buenos Aires to its adoptive homes of Athens, Lisbon, Helsinki and other cities, Tango Around the World weaves together passion, style and elegance to create a rich musical tapestry that features traditional tango alongside contemporary fusions.
The elegant style and restrained passion of tango has made it one of the most recognized and popular forms of music and dance around the world. Its romantic allure has earned it such a wide following that there are now tango clubs from Seattle to Sydney. Over the past decade, DJs and contemporary musicians have taken tango in new directions with electronic-based compositions known as "new tango."
Argentina and tango have become almost synonymous as scores of artists continue to compose, record and perform "authentic" tango in concert halls and dance clubs throughout the country. Hugo Díaz, one of Argentina’s most beloved musicians, was a child prodigy whose genius as a harmonica player brought a new dimension to classic tango. He pays homage to his homeland with "Mi Buenos Aires Querido" (My Beloved Buenos Aires), a standard that has also been performed by tango legend Carlos Gardel and others. His country mate Melingo also lends a distinct sound with his smoky voice and lyrics about the underbelly of society that have earned him comparisons to Lou Reed and Tom Waits.
Though he got his start in the rock arena, Melingo has never forgotten his roots. Today he punctuates his music with a myriad of influences, as on "Leonel el Feo, " a tribute to legendary tango singer Edmundo Rivero that features an Indian tabla.
Argentine expatriates also have played an important role in the spread of tango’s appeal around the world. Argentina native Federico Aubele traveled the world and lived in Berlin and Barcelona while developing his own contemporary tango-influenced style.
Born in Buenos Aires, Juan Carlos Cáceres moved to Paris in the second decade of his life and has since become a regular presence on the music scene there. He is joined by vocalist Ariel Prat on "José Mármol y Tarija," a song that explores tango’s African roots and influences. These roots and influences are evident on "Dimba," a song that features the distinctive sound of the bandoneón, the most essential element of Argentine tango and a close cousin of the accordion. "Dimba" is sung in the West African language of Maninka by Ousmane Touré, former lead singer of Touré Kunda, one of the most popular African bands in world music history.
Oddly enough, one of the strongest footholds for tango outside of Argentina is Finland. While tango’s popularity has had its ups and downs in most European countries, the Finns adopted tango as a national genre, adding lyrics in the local language and developing a catalog of tango inspired songs that now rank among the country’s most beloved.
M. A. Numminen is a leading composer of Finnish tango, and he is joined by Sanna Pietiäinen on "Kangastus." Scandinavia is also represented here by Electrocutango, the brainchild of Norwegian composer and producer Sverre Indris Joner. "Felino" is a modern electronic tango that showcases a lineup of accomplished Norwegian musicians.
As you travel south from Scandinavia, the climate isn’t the only thing that heats up. Tango is alive and well throughout southern Europe. Alexis Kalofolias is better known to his fans as a member of The Last Drive, one of the most popular rock bands in Greek history. "Gia Ligo" (Just For A While) is from the score of the film “Sose Me” (Save Me), composed with fellow band mate Thanos Amorginos and featuring a sample from a 1950s recording by Greek singer Danae Stratigopoulou.
Hailing from Serbia, the Earth Wheel Sky Band is led by music activist Olah Vince, who brings a Gypsy sensibility to Argentine tango by adding a cimbalom to the soaring violins of "Gipsy Tango" while songstress Liana reminds us of the similarities between tango and fado of her Portuguese homeland.
Brazilian singer Fortuna performs an unusual Yiddish tango to round out Tango Around the World, the latest release in Putumayo’s successful series of Latin dance-themed collections that includes Salsa Around the World and Rumba Flamenco.
A portion of Putumayo’s proceeds from the sale of Tango Around the World will be donated to L.I.F.E. Argentina, which works to improve the quality of life of underserved and underprivileged Argentine children.
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central